'Rookie mistake' costly for Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. – The moment called for a celebration. Just not the one Austin Seferian-Jenkins chose.

The rookie tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers caught a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The catch gave the Bucs a 17-16 lead with 14:18 remaining.

What Seferian-Jenkins did next was the start of the Bucs blowing a fourth-quarter lead for the third straight game and the fifth time this season. He took the ball, placed it on the ground and did a pose mimicking the logo for Captain Morgan Rum.

It might seem harmless, maybe even creative because the rum and the Bucs both have pirates as mascots. But the NFL doesn’t have much of a sense of humor when it comes to celebrations. The bottom line is that the ball can’t be used as a prop in celebrations.

“He used the ball as a prop,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. “Have we gone over the rules on celebrations -- you can’t use the ball as a prop? Yes. Heat of the battle for a rookie. Rookie mistake that we can’t have.’’

The mistake was costly. The Bucs were penalized 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff. That helped give the Falcons good field position. They started their drive on their own 35-yard line and went for a touchdown and a two-point conversion to take a 24-17 lead. The Falcons added a field goal after that.

“This hurts,’’ Seferian-Jenkins said. “No one likes losing. We’re 1-8 and I think we’re better than this. It’s frustrating, not only for the fans, but for the players and coaches because we put in a lot of work six days out of the week and to come out here and put it on the field it’s unfortunate when you come off the field and you’ve come up short.’’